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World Vision and Save the Children Produce a Nutrition Barometer Putting India at the Bottom of the List

CHENNAI, September 21, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --

Persistent Failure to Tackle Malnutrition Puts Millions of Children at Risk

World Vision India and Save the Children are calling for political promises to be urgently translated into action to avert the deaths of millions of undernourished children, of which over 5000 die every day in India alone.

The two organisations have launched a Nutrition Barometer which assesses governments' political, legal and financial commitments to tackling malnutrition in the 36 countries where 90% of the world's undernourished children live. Almost a quarter of these countries have shown little progress in tackling this silent crisis.  

Strikingly, India appears at the bottom of the list despite experiencing strong economic growth in the past few years. At the other end of the spectrum lies Peru, which has shown strong political resolve and has committed growing resources to fight child undernutrition, thus achieving results.

Spectacular economic growth has not translated into better nutrition outcomes for many of India's children. India is along with the Democratic Republic of Congo and Yemen in showing the weakest performance, with frail commitments and frail outcomes.

Our neighbouring countries of Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh have fared better in the Nutrition Barometer.

In India, child undernutrition levels remain persistently high - around 42% according to the last official survey in 2005/6 - due to issues including inadequate spending on health and nutrition, wide economic and social inequality and weak political commitment, though the authorities's commitment to tackle child undernutrition is now strengthening.

"Statistics relating to children abound in India. We have analysed these statistics, debated them but the pain and humiliation behind these numbers remain," said Dr Jayakumar Christian, CEO and National Director, World Vision India.

The accountability report identifies opportunities for governments to fulfil their promises. Specifically, the new barometer suggests that good governance can play a key role to achieve success in fighting child undernutrition, as reflected in 13 countries representing over a third of the sample.

World Vision India's experience in working with the most vulnerable communities across India also suggests the same. It has shown that when people participate in the governance, the situation of nutrition has improved.

Save the Children India's CEO Thomas Chandy said, "We know the geographic areas and the social groups where malnutrition levels are the highest. We also know the reasons. The report is a pointer to the need to back political commitment with adequate resources and effective mechanisms."

As India is getting ready with its XII Five Year Plan, this demands not just political promises, but also strong nutrition strategies backed by sustained, long-term investments, in order for every child to have the best start to life.

Globally, World Vision and Save the Children are calling on world leaders gathering in New York for the UN General Assembly summit to take urgent measures to tackle child undernutrition. They warn that unless promises are translated into swift action, the ambitious commitment made at the World Health Assembly earlier this year to reduce the number of stunted children by 40%, by 2025, will not be met. To view the Nutrition Barometer, visit http://www.childhealthnow.org/docs/en/nutrition-barometer-report.pdf

For a copy of the Nutrition Barometer, or to speak to Dr. Jayakumar Christian, CEO and National Director of World Vision India, please contact Pradeep Daniel at +91 99401 92290

Notes to editors:

The Nutrition Barometer will be launched at the UNGA in New York on Wednesday, 26 September, at 8am at Sentry Centers (730 3rd Ave). This event will be co-hosted by Save the Children CEO Jasmine Whitbread and World Vision CEO Kevin Jenkins.

The Nutrition Barometer aims to provide a snapshot of national governments' commitments and progress in addressing children's nutrition. It builds on existing indices such as the Global Hunger Index (GHI) produced by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the Hunger Reduction Commitment Index (HRCI) released by the Institute of Development Studies. It analyses commitments made by each country's government to fight undernutrition and attempts to understand how these commitments move with children's nutrition status.

The figure of 36 countries accounting for 90% of the world's malnourished children being able to reduce the number of stunted children by some 64 million by 2025 comes from research carried out by Save the Children.

About World Vision India:

World Vision India is a Christian humanitarian organisation working to create lasting change in the lives of children, families and communities living in poverty and injustice.  World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, caste, race, ethnicity or gender. 

World Vision India has its headquarters in Chennai, with almost 2000 staff serving vulnerable children across 163 districts in 25 states and the National Capital Territory of Delhi. World Vision India works alongside communities, the government, NGOs, CBOs and other partners to implement programmes in emergency relief, education, health care, and economic development. 

Primary Media Contact: Pradeep Daniel, pradeep_daniel@wvi.org, 91-99-40192290

Secondary Media Contact: Impuri Ngayawon, impuri_ngayawon@wvi.org, 91-88-00605557

SOURCE World Vision India




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